Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves... There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9, 11
Bumper stickers can communicate messages that might not otherwise be heard... but never take your theology from them!
For example, consider this popular bumper sticker message: “Christians aren’t perfect—just forgiven.” The sentiment that Christians are painfully aware of their sinfulness is correct, and they know how necessary forgiveness is. Christians also affirm that while their sins are forgiven, that does not add up to an ongoing life of perfection. But to suggest that Christians are just forgiven is surely to miss the point.
Christians are forgiven; they are not perfect. But they are more than “just forgiven”—they are called to and empowered for a new life!
Paul explained this truth quite bluntly and plainly. Having listed some of the common sinful behaviors of the day—behavior patterns that disqualify the behaviors from participation in God’s kingdom—he concluded: “There was a time when some of you were just like that, but”—and it was a big but—“now your sins have been washed away and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
The Corinthians were undoubtedly forgiven sinners, but in light of the fact that they had been “washed” and “set apart” and “made right with God,” a higher standard was now expected from them in their lives.
For example, some of the Corinthian Christians were trying to resolve their differences by taking each other to court. There was nothing unusual about Corinthians suing each other, but Paul said it was not acceptable behavior for Christians. Christians will one day “judge the world” and also “judge angels” (6:2-3), so Paul argued that they ought to be capable of settling conflicts among themselves without seeking a legal remedy imposed by unbelievers.
How strictly modern Christians should apply this principle to their business lives is a subject of earnest debate and genuine disagreement. But Christians should, at least, be willing to “accept the injustice and leave it at that,” and they should be willing to “let [them]selves be cheated” (6:7-8).
Of course, nobody likes to be treated unjustly or to be cheated. And rather than accept such treatment, the natural response is to take whatever action is available to avoid it. Paul’s point is that Christians respond to life’s injustices in ways that are not “normal.” They have been “set apart” for something different. Their model is Jesus, who suffered monumental injustice on a cross without complaining. And their empowerment comes from the Holy Spirit.
Yes, Christians are not “just forgiven;” they’re definitely different!
For Further Study: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.